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Gerry goes to jail

On Telegraph Ave, I worked next to Umberto today. Are we friends? No, but I like working near him, and he doesn't seem to mind working around me.

We had a good laugh at a couple of college kids who looked at his table, with its dozens of anarchist bumper stickers—

"No-one is free when others are oppresses."

"Against abortion? Have a vasectomy."

"The religious right is neither."

"I'd rather be smashing imperialism."

"There's no government like no government."

"If you want peace, work for justice."

"U.S. out of my uterus."

"The death penalty is dead wrong."

You get the idea, right? It's fairly obvious that Umberto is an anarchist, running a very political table on the Avenue.

But one of the college students asked, "Do you have the sticker that says 'Star Fleet Academy'?"

And no, the kid wasn't kidding.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

My day was a little light on the ordinary dumdums, but an old geezer with a slight Southern accent came up and said, "I want me a dally fish."

I wasn't even being an ass on purpose when I said, "Huh?" You want a dally fish? A fish that dawdles, just loiters around all day doing nothing?

Had to ask him to repeat himself before guessing that he wanted a Salvador Dali fish. It's a slightly surrealist fish sticker, as you'd expect, but the geezer didn't even get the joke. He asked, "What does d-a-l-i mean, anyway?"

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Several of us chipped in to buy Gerry a cheeseburger and fries and beer for lunch. He's awfully scrawny, so that might be the best meal he's had in ages.

What's the special occasion? Tomorrow Gerry reports to jail, to spend thirty days paying his debt to a sick society for his crime — vending without a license.

His table is full of pro-pot literature, political petitions, and a few bumper stickers and very political books. Obviously it's a free speech table, First Amendment, same as mine only more so. The difference is that Gerry doesn't have a license or city permit, so he's going to jail.

What's the point? What lesson is a homeless or near-homeless street character like Gerry supposed to learn from a month in jail?

And who's protected? He's not a burglar or thief, never hurt anyone. He's just a guy who doesn't have the money to buy a vendor's license.

His real crime, of course, is what his table is about — marijuana mostly, and left-wing ideology. That's what's being  punished. And it's honest capitalism, trading money for merchandise, only the city didn't get its cut, and that can't be allowed.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Brenda wasn't on the Ave today, or if she was I didn't see her. That's odd. She's usually there, every Sunday, and despite forecasts of rain it was a warm, sunny day.

Well, she has my phone number, but I don't have hers. If she calls this week, we'll go to that Frank Moore event on Saturday,  and if she doesn't call, I'll stay home alone, like every other night of my life.

From Pathetic Life #20
Sunday, January 21, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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